Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Phase 1 Look 3.5 - Define Extreme....

Above:  Look 3.5 as described by my girls.
Below: Look 3.5 as described by my phone's camera.
 No, that is not hot pink hair chalk. Also, if you've ever wondered how to get colors this vivid into your hair, ask us. Rachel figured it out. It's easier than you think, but requires a certain amount of shame elimination. We're talking wearing foils at the post office, foils at the school, foils while you purchase new underwear, foils while you take a picture with famous people (Of all the days to see my kids' heroes) But then you get to look as cool as this at your cub den meeting:
Totally worth it.

Here is the lesson I took away from Look 3.5:
I told Rachel that from this point on, she'd probably see the whinier, more insecure side of me, because after this style, I'll be terrified of every hairdo we try. This length is officially the last comfort zone I have. All the shorter styles coming are the "extreme" ones. She looked at the magenta, radiant orchid, and cyan dye bowls she'd been mixing, and laughed. Hard. Then she said, "Everything you've done so far is extreme to someone."

She's the smartest, again. Every change we make in life can be viewed as extreme, either because of the time spent in a certain state before changing, or because of the distance from point A to the change. Everyone has their own scale on which to define "extreme."

I'm getting stares, I'll admit it. Most kids think I'm the coolest, and their parents refrain from commenting.:-) But, I'm also losing some preconceived ideas about people now that I'm the person with pink hair. Who am I to decide what's stylish for others? My little measuring stick can't apply to someone else because they have a different stick, and their point of view is as valid as mine. Even when the points of view are at odds. No, especially when they're at odds.  I'll really need to keep this in mind as I jump into Look 4, because I'll be dying to judge myself. Let's hope I don't. Valuable philosophical lessons can occur when we embrace changes. Especially the extreme ones.

What kinds of "extreme" things have you thought about trying? Inspire us with your ideas. I promise not to be offended if none of you say pink highlights.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Look 3: The color of fear

 Can we take a second and talk about our fears?
 (Rachel's hands after look three. Do you feel scared?)

I watched a documentary on Joan of Arc last night.  I can't stop thinking about her. Did you know the people who knew her before she became The Maid described her as ordinary? I don't know how many times I heard that word last night during the show. They called her that over and over again. Extremely ordinary.

Then, bam. She led the armies of the prince of France to lift the siege on Orleans, and then safely escorted the prince to be crowned in a city deep in enemy territory. She was a teenager. An ordinary one. So what was the difference? How did plain old Joan become Joan of Arc?

One thing she had going for her was an absolute confidence in her mission. Conviction. Faith. She knew she was meant to do something with her time on earth, and she allowed it to grow bigger than her fears. She pulled a Pink, threw some glitter in the air, looked fear in the face and said, "I just don't care."

Sometimes I feel like we've got our fear/faith balance backwards. Because let's be honest, in our closet full of dreams the only lock holding those things prisoner is fear. It can manifest in several different ways: Fear of failure, fear of ridicule, fear of pain, fear of inconvenience, fear of the unknown. But it all amounts to the same thing. Fear is forcing ordinary people to avoid doing extraordinary things.

The other thing is, she worked toward her dream every day. She didn't sit and wait for God to make her dream a reality. She knew much was expected of her if her mission was to be fulfilled. She thought about it and worked toward it. She was undeterred.

I'm not saying this hair thing is Joan of Arc territory, it's not even close, but through it I'm learning something Joan of Arc somehow knew as a kid. Fear isn't a good enough reason to abandon our dreams, no matter how large or how small.

 What if my face shape is wrong for that cut? What if my skin tone doesn't look good with that color? What if no one hires me once I get my photography thing up and running? What if my neighbors talk behind my back when I start up my in-home business? What if I lose money on that investment? What if my husband hates that sweater on me? What if my friend says "no" to my invitation? What if, what if, what if. Well, screw that.

Our lives are short. Real short. And that's even if we have a typical human lifespan. Do you want anything holding you back from experiencing all you can while you're here? I'm not talking about abandoning responsibility and living some giant, selfish rager. I'm talking about working toward the things you want to accomplish and try while you're here. Examine what's holding you back. If it's fear, stick up those middle fingers and press on, warrior.

So here's to look 3. This one scared me the most so far, and therefore, it's with great satisfaction that I present it to you. Color: black with an all-over blue (Billyrock blue from Manic Panic). Cut: thick, straight bangs, lots of layers and an inch or two shorter than look 2.

Discussion time: I'm hearing some tales of adventurous haircuts. If you're experimenting in any way along with me, will you email your pictures to me and allow me to share them on this blog?  Pretty please??

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Phase one: Look 2

Dear Diary,
Black hair rocks. 

Presenting the next look on the docket: Shoulder length black hair with a center part.
My first thought when I saw this picture was: That looks like a full blown wig. Right?

My next thought was: I look like Featherika.

 Remember her? She was the evil villain on Darkwing Duck.

We basically look like twins. 

But then I lift up the top layer and BAM. Party. Peek-a-boo highlights in blue, purple, pink, and yellow.

 The highlights were the best part, really. They were so much fun I was sad they were hidden most of the time.
 I now know that I love blue in my hair. I'm so happy to know that. In fact, it's heavily influenced my choice for look 3!

Emotional status: Liberated. I love this adventure. I'm focusing less on what I look like, knowing that it's all experimental right now. So much pressure is being lifted off my heart. I'm also finding I'm ready for the changes sooner than I thought. Stay tuned!

Discussion time. How do you keep focused on what's really important about yourself? How do you practice self-care? Comment and let me know, I'd love to hear how you stay centered!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Phase one: Look 1

It's about time, right? First, here are two "before" pictures for your reference. These two pictures represent every "style" I've had for the last....I don't know, forever.

Oh, except the ponytail or pen bun. Posted pictures of those would have been more accurate for my "before" style. There is nothing wrong with any of those styles. I loved them. They were easy. They were comfortable. They were me.

As I mentioned in the previous post, the only reason I want to go on this journey is to challenge the concept of "me." I need to make myself realize that I am so much more than the pictures of this chick.

So here is the first change. Red and caramel highlights and 7 inches off. Lots of layers.
 Above Left: wet unstyled hair. Above: day of  first change
Below: Waves. As if you needed that explanation.

The first thing you'll notice is, it's not drastic. Also, my hairstylist is a layer ninja and extremely talented.

The next important thing to note is something you'd never get from looking at the pictures. It's working. I mean, the "maybe if I know I'm going to change my hair constantly over the next few months, I'll care less about my looks" experiment. I thought about my hair almost never. People would say, "you got your hair cut!" and I'd be surprised. They'd ask, "do you like it?" and I'd be confused. It didn't matter if I liked it, it never occurred to me to like it or not like it.  I was just trying it, like a new flavor of ice cream. My hair didn't define me.

This is big for me. It's one step closer to my size not defining me. Because if I can let my hair just be hair, and not be "me," there's a light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe one day I can let my body just be my body, and let me be me.

Coming up next week - Phase one: Look 2

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Phase one of the hair affair: the motivation and the leap

I'm about to do something I've never done before. Thought about, often, over the course of the last few years, yeah. Done? No freaking way. See, I've got these issues. Body image issues. And even though I'm 36 years old now, and I'm no longer starving, puking, or exercising 6 hours a day, I still have this little sick, dark disease. It's like a venomous pet. I know it could kill me, but I still let it get too close to me sometimes. It's frightening. And embarrassing. And exhausting.

tired animated GIF

The reason I bring this up now is I've had a relapse. I hate the word relapse. It describes nothing, and means different things to different people, yet it's supposed to convey the steps you take in the opposite direction. The unhealthy backtracking one does on one's way to progress. I should have seen it coming. I spent 20 years in the hell of my disease, did I really think I could come out in a couple short years just because I said I wanted to? I did think that, actually.

Rachel, you're thinking, what does this have to do with your hair? Fine, I'll tell you. I still allow way too much of my identity to be rooted in how I look. My value, my importance, so much of it still hangs on the thread of how I feel about my looks. You should know it pains me to write that publicly. And, I'm really not sure how to let that go. I wish I knew the recipe for it. Instead, I decided to challenge my view of myself by changing my looks. Drastically. So I'm trying hairstyles. Turquoise, spiky, pixie, chin length, bangs, you get the idea. Then I will shave my head. I don't have any delusions about the way this will look. I know how a buzzed head looks: great on some, not-so-great on others. But this CANNOT be about how I will look. This is about choosing to have an experience.

One Direction animated GIF

Join me if you will, I'd love some company. You don't have to cut your hair for solidarity, just pop in every now and again and share in my self-discovery. I plan to do at least 6 hairstyles in the next 6 months. I'll be heavily supervised by champion hairstylist, Rachel Vanderbeek. Don't worry. Cutting my own hair was not on my bucket list. I'm so excited to get started. Let phase one begin.
And by begin I mean it's already begun. We did it. Look one is already here. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Agents are scary.....until you meet them.

Traditional publishing is a competitive business. And when I say competitive, I don't mean the bake off where there's only one "Best Cookie," but you could go home with "Most Original," or "Best presentation," instead. I mean competitive in the sense that the gladiators meant it in Roman times. It's brutal. Representation to negotiate with (or even get your work in front of) publishers is a hot commodity. It takes work. You have to read articles on the agents, read and watch their interviews, pick the ones that might suit you best (or at least accept queries in your genre), query them and then wait week after agonizing week for them to request to see more of your work, or reject you without reading a sentence of it.


Imagine my delight when the LDS Storymakers conference I was attending offered meetings or pitch sessions with agents as an optional add-on to your registration. So I signed up. I had never heard of any of the agents, so I read a little on each and selected one that seemed a good fit for me. Victoria Marini. Please check out her website and I dare you not to fall in love with her approach. Also she's a sucker for cat GIF's. Trust me, you'll want to query her. The manuscript consults at the conference were a first-come-first-served kind of deal, so there were no guarantees, but due to a happy coincidence involving a fortune cookie, I got in. I cheered and gushed for a while until I realized I was going to discuss my first chapter face-to-face with someone from the meanest, harshest, most cutthroat group of people on the planet.....Literary Agents.
mean gif photo: Mean Girls Look .GIF 2mfcfpf.gif

I was terrified.

Then I got my time slot. 5:00 pm on Friday night. FIVE P.M.?!? After her full day of pitches and consults and my full day of gorging on info from industry professionals, but before DINNER?? That's when we have to meet?? Forget terrified.  I was screwed.

I walked into the tiny room wherein sat Ms. Marini.  We shook hands. And then in a move so professional and respectful I could only sit in awe, she proceeded to give me feedback on my pages. She didn't waste time on small talk, she didn't pretend interest in my personal life, she went to work. I LOVED it. I only had 15 minutes with her, for crying out loud. She praised where she thought praise was due, critiqued where called for, and warned where she felt warning was necessary. Then she requested more pages. This is, I believe, common practice among agents, to request pages from authors with whom you are face to face, and it's brilliant. Tell me what you like to see, and don't like to see, then give me time to revise and submit more to you. Not the move of a cutthroat meanie, by any stretch.
I ran into her later in the hall, and we chatted. She told me about her adorable mother that would follow her to conferences just to have lunch with her on a break. I talked about my kids. She took pictures of the mountains I take for granted everyday. She was real. Ladies and gentleman that is what you should be looking for. When it came to social time, she got personal. When it came time to teach her class, she was animated, energetic and informative. During the consultation she consulted. This woman may never be my agent,  but she really helped me understand the benefits of having one.
<b>Funny</b> <b>cats</b> - part 46, <b>funny</b> <b>cat</b> gis, <b>funny</b> <b>gifs</b>, <b>cat</b> <b>gifs</b>
I took most of the classes taught by the agents and editors at the conference, and at the end of it all it was pretty clear. These people are just people. Lovely, wise, and HONEST people. They want to help us. They want us to improve and excel. Why? Because they have a vested interest in selling good products. So if you ever get the chance to meet one, or consult with one, or take their classes, don't hesitate. You can't lose.

So, you want to write a book... 5 things to think about before you begin

Yes, this is me dusting off the old blog. I happen to have a very good reason for my hiatus. Don't care? Too bad, I'm going to tell you anyway. Not because I'm narcissistic and believe you need to hear about my struggles to properly appreciate how important I am, but because of one simple phrase I hear ALL.THE.TIME.

 "I've always wanted to write a book."

If you have said this, or any of the other myriad variations, this post is for you. And no, this is not a Scared Straight program. I will not discourage any person from writing a book. Ever. I love books,and I love the people who write them. So, if you have that same little itch that brought me to the excruciating twelve to twenty-four month social absence I've just experienced, I'd like to share some things I learned along the way.

1. Start with a good idea

Think you've got a super original idea for a book? You don't. Sorry. I don't mean that rudely. I just mean, it's 2015. The concept of original thought is basically extinct. Actually, if you think about it, the fact that none of our ideas is original should be quite liberating. It's all been done. So we're free to reinvent to our hearts' content. Just remember to do it in your own unique way. Got a dystopian post-apocalyptic story? Heard it. Got a romance? It's a love triangle, right? Or maybe it's the one where the MC hates the love interest in the beginning, but they end up together in the end. Or maybe you've got an epic fantasy with an MC who has a special gift that will help them save not only the world you've just built,  but also the world as we know it. He or she has a group of plucky sidekicks, and a mentor, and there may or may not be a prophecy involved predicting our hero's success or failure. Predictable. Patterned. There are patterns for a reason. They work. But if you want yours to stand out, figure out how to put a new spin on it.

2. A book is a completely different thing than an idea for a book.
 Books graphics

I don't just mean the difference between your idea and a published and bound magical form of diversion and entertainment that you and I willingly addict ourselves to daily. I mean the typed and completed manuscript that means you took your New Year's resolution seriously this time. I mean the jacked up back and shoulders, and sore fingers that indicate you committed to said idea, and then let it push you violently down a gajillion rabbit holes until your idea morphed into a semblance of a plot, which then morphed into characters that became your best friends, but sucked the life out of you like enemies, which then morphed into a storyline. There are many differences, but the biggest one is reality. An idea is cheap. You could have a million a day. Don't make the mistake of thinking your idea will sell itself without actually learning to write a book. You want a finished product? Sit your butt in the chair and finish the project. And for the love, do NOT put an ad out looking for someone to write your book idea for you and offer to pay them $50. Offer them no less than all your money, assets, and first-born child, or write the thing yourself.
3. Learn how to write a book.writing gif photo: the writing process writing_process.gif

I hesitate to write this one, because it will sound harsh, which can sometimes translate into discouragement. But it's important. When I told my mother, a very wise and well-read woman, I wanted to write a book, she said, "You should take a class." I failed to take that advice when writing my first book, and it cost me months of extensive and brutal editing, only to end up with a book that was just OK. So when she said it again on the next book, I took a class. Then another. Then bought books on writing. Then followed blogs on writing. Then joined author's groups. Went to conferences. Entered contests with the sole purpose of gaining feedback from professionals. Guess what happened? I learned how to write. And, perhaps more importantly, I learned how not to write. I learned the dangers of cliches, filter words, outdated dialogue, vague pitches, poor outlining, predictable endings, etc.  I've also had the opportunity to read and critique other writers' work. You know the difference between the works I enjoyed and the ones I rolled my eyes at? Understanding of the craft of writing, and, those willing to put in the time to gain it. Want an example? Let me know and I'll show you the difference between my 1st draft and my last draft. It's staggering.

4. Do not let the only eyes on this manuscript be yours and the agent/publisher/audience you want to woo.
reading gif photo:  tumblr_mdfxcmQhHL1rcw9nuo1_500.gif

The most valuable thing you can do for yourself during the writing process is get feedback. Not from your mother, unless your mother is brutally honest and somewhat skeptical. You need to hand pick your critique group. Call for volunteers, and then select them with extreme prejudice. This subject could become a blog post on its own, but I'll tell you, finding the right beta readers made  my progress from draft to draft possible. Period. So get some. Other authors who also need betas are a great resource, and are frequently willing to trade.

5. Balance your life with ferocity.

Writing takes time. So does parenting, your day job, your relationships, and every other blasted thing you have going on in your life. Writing can and will take over your life and leave only dirty dishes, overflowing hampers, and disappointed people in its wake if you let it. Decide what portion of your head space you are going to give it, and protect those boundaries like the border police. Give it the time and effort it requires, but time is your most valuable commodity, so budget for it.

The truth is, that idea you have in your head? No one else can write it like you. So buckle up, and get it out there. We'd all love to read it.

Do you have tips for beginning writers? Please share!